So you have all been dying waiting to hear about my trip to Nicaragua, and let me tell you, it’s been a struggle to put the whole experience into words, but here it is:
Throughout my life I’ve found that I let jealously control a lot of my actions, thoughts, and speech. I am not afraid to admit this flaw; because it is something I struggle with every day and something the Lord continuously grants me grace and mercy with. Although jealously is always lurking in my mind, I’ve learned quite a few things over the past couple of months in preparing for and going on this trip to Nicaragua. When I found out about the trip, I was ecstatic about going. I knew that the Lord had placed this trip in my horizon because He had a plan for me through this trip. I never once reviewed my financial situation because I knew the Lord would provide. Around graduation, which was the first part in May, I started receiving congratulatory cards and monetary donations towards this mission trip. The Lord provided every single penny of the cost for this trip (amen!), and I am so blessed and thankful for the people who helped in making that happen. The devil was at work even through that- I was jealous of other people who had gotten the trip paid for also, because for them it was all donations towards the trip, but for me I was using money donated toward the trip that I thought I should be receiving for graduating college. I am trying to be honest and real about the whole experience, so I’ll tell you that once I realized what was happening I talked with someone about it, and the Lord graciously provided me with peace and clarity about the situation. I realized how selfish I was acting and how my light was shining through this because people saw a sacrifice through my efforts to raise money, and God definitely got all the glory. So, once the money was paid I never looked back and am thankful the Lord got me past it.
So the time was finally here to leave Charleston and head to Charlotte to fly to Atlanta to then fly to Managua, Nicaragua. I can honestly say that the whole day of traveling was exhausting and exciting and fun and challenging. We were delayed in Atlanta, so we got to Managua about 3 hours later than expected, but the Lord provided safe travels and we were finally in Nicaragua. We went straight to the hotel, which was 5 minutes from the airport, and quickly learned a few rules of Nicaragua, like: you can’t flush the toilet paper and don’t drink the water. The next day we all woke up and went to the best breakfast we had, by far. It was delicious- fresh fruit, home-made tortilla, fried plantains, omelets, fresh fruit juice, and a ton of other stuff! After breakfast we left for Rivas, Nicaragua so we could take about an hour long ferry over to the island of Ometepeh where we would be serving for five days. The ferry ride was beautiful, as we all admired the two volcanoes that composed the island of Ometepeh, Concepcion and Maderas. The afternoon was relaxing and we were all excited to finally be there. We got settled in and started talking about our plans for the week.
Saturday was the first real day of missions work. We had breakfast then hiked along the beach to the school- Helping Hands with Hearts for Christ; a school for deaf and blind children on the island. We ended up cleaning out an old sewing room and put some sealant on the roof of the school, and then headed for a late lunch and did some shopping for home outreach the next day, where we picked up rice, beans, sugar, and oil. The evening was just spent relaxing and swimming in the lake.
The next day, Sunday, we had breakfast then headed to church. The church was a concrete building with no doors or windows and dirt floors with about 6 benches. We were honored when they asked Matt, our mission team leader, to preach about letting our light shine. After church we headed out to “home outreach” where we took bags of rice, beans, sugar, oil, toiletries, toys, and some clothes. The first place we visited was a funeral of a 35 year old woman who died of liver cancer and had two small children. The experience was humbling because there was no question about who would take care of the children. The family stood up and did it, no questions. We mourned with them, prayed with them, and Erin gave her bible to one of the daughters and shared some verses with her, then continued our outreach. The next house we visited was about a mile and a half away from where we were, to which we walked to, there and back. The household consisted of a couple, one of whom was dying; the man had gangrene and was missing all of his toes and suffering from diabetes. Our mission team prayed over him and gave them the supplies we brought, and then headed back. The next house we visited was woman who lived with two other people. She shared with us a story about her nephew, and how he had gotten sold when he was a baby, and how she is still searching to find him. She told us after we prayed with her and gave her the supplies that she wishes her nephew, wherever he was, would grow up to be like us; talk about breaking your heart, thank you Jesus for that experience. The next house we visited was a woman who lived in a very small house with two other people, also. We gave her the supplies and prayed with her and she immediately opened and started reading the Bible we gave her, when moments before she graciously thanked us for the food because she had no food for the day. It was awesome to witness a hunger for Christ prevailing over a hunger for food. The last house we visited was a house of a woman, Hayli, who showed up at the school the day before asking for our help to build her a house. We decided to go visit to see what the Lord was getting us in to. She had four posts in the back of her mother’s yard that she wanted to turn into her house. We gave them the supplies we brought and prayed with them, and then figured out a plan of action for the next day. After a long afternoon we had a late lunch and then a very relaxing evening.
The next morning, Monday, we woke bright and early, had breakfast then the girls headed to the school, and the boys headed to Hayli’s house to get started building. The boys were back and forth, having to use supplies at the school, but we girls were able to play with the kids. We played soccer and just hung out with the kids. At the end of the day when the kids left, we had a sign language lesson, taught by a teacher at the school named Alex, and then headed over to Hayli’s house. The boys had managed to paint and build the frame of a roof! We had a late dinner and then just relaxed, thanking God for what He had done in and through us that day.
The next day, Tuesday, we woke up early again and had breakfast, and then the girls and boys headed our separate ways. But to our surprise, the boys came back a couple hours later. They had to stop building because the property belonged to Hayli’s relative that was opposed to us helping her build a house. So instead they came and worked at the school. That day we were playing volleyball with the kids. After the volleyball game, the kids went to math class, and at this point the Lord put on my heart to reach out. The first thing I saw was two women, Jaroseca and Isabelle, washing clothes in the lake. I quickly learned how to ask them if they needed help and then went and asked them. They graciously accepted my offer, and I got to work. I helped Jaroseca wash clothes for her family of a husband and two children, Jamaria (1) and Justin (5). The experience was amazing and I thank the Lord for providing me with that opportunity to spread his love. I made sure both of the women knew I was helping because I was working for God. I left Jaroseca with the saying “Dios te bendiga” which means God bless you. That day, the boys were working on a window for the future washroom at the school. We also did some weeding in the school garden to help out the gardener, Arabin. After our service at the school that day, we learned a little more sign language, and then we headed back and just swam and relaxed and had dinner, then called it a night.
Wednesday, the last day at the school we got up early and had breakfast then headed to the school. The boys got right to work on the window and some of us played with kids and did some more gardening, which included digging up some roots and cultivating the soil. I was able to help with the window repair as the day concluded. We also helped fill in some pot holes in the road that leads to the school from the main road. It was sad to say goodbye to the school and the work we could physically see we did, but we said our goodbyes and headed to our hotel for the last night in Ometepeh.
Overall, our work in Ometepeh at the H3C was awesome and unexpected. I can honestly say that I did not get the results I expected from this trip and mission work, but I definitely got the results that the Lord planned for me to get. It’s crazy how the Lord works, but it’s amazing how we reap the benefits. I can say with a sincere heart that every one of my mission team members was touched by the Lord in some sort of way and I hope and trust God that we touched the lives of many Nicaraguans through our service.
Once we left Ometepeh, Nicaragua, Thursday, we got on the ferry (bright and early at 730 am) and headed back to Rivas. We stopped and had a late breakfast there, then headed for the beach. We stopped on the way at the local grocery store and got some food supplies for the next couple of days at our debrief, at the Hacienda Iguana Hotel at the beach. When we arrived, after an almost two hour van ride, we hit the beach running, after a delicious lunch and getting the rooms figured out. The waves were huge and we had an amazing time. We spent the next three ish days eating, swimming, hiking, and just enjoying each other’s company. On Friday, God actually presented our team, specifically me, with an interesting opportunity. A group of guys was staying there after helping build houses somewhere in Nicaragua. One of the guys was hit in the head by his surf board, and Chelsey Kight, RN (me) assessed his injury and I advised him to go to the clinic. He ended up getting four stitches and later that night me and Sue hung out with those guys and had some intriguing religious and general conversation. It feels good to be able to discuss God without feeling attacked, or like I am attacking someone. God really opened our eyes individually to the work we had done and seen through our service in Ometepeh.
Saturday morning was tough leaving the beach, but we packed up and headed back to Managua. We did stop in Masaya, Nicaragua at a market to do a little souvenir shopping then made it to Managua to relax a little by the pool then have a delicious last Nicaraguan dinner.
We got up around 4:15 am the next morning, Sunday, to head to the airport. Sunday was spent traveling and we finally made it back to Charleston around 11:30 pm. Just like that, almost like the snap of fingers, the trip was over and we were back to reality.
Now, to get a little personal… I’ve given you an overview of some of the happening of the trip, but honestly words can’t even begin to exemplify and validate what I experienced, and the work I actually did. I can honestly tell you that I don’t think I will immediately or definitively know the results of how I made an impact over there or how my life has explicitly been impacted from this trip. Nothing monumental happened while I was in Nicaragua, but each moment was lived in the moment and given to me by Jesus Christ, and that is a lot to take in. To put in words the emotions I felt, the things my body experienced, the things my mind analyzed and perceived, cannot be articulated. The best I can get from this trip in the form of words is that it was awesome. It’s hard to think that in a few short months, or even weeks, this whole trip will just be a memory, slowly fading into pictures, and a vague part of my past. Although this is true, this trip has lit a fire for my service to not just stop in Nicaragua. The main thing I got from the trip was basically faith without actions is nothing. It’s so easy to say things that I’m going to do, say things that I believe, say things that I know is right, but if I’m not practicing what I’m preaching, then who could ever believe what I say, because obviously I’m not believing them myself. I was really convicted of this throughout the trip, because I find myself saying things a lot when I don’t do them, or practice them, or believe them. This is where the jealously I talked about earlier comes back in, because I can see results through people who actually believe and do what they say, but then I get jealous because they are seeing results, whether it’s with their faith, or relationships or whatever. The bottom line is, is I’m not doing my part. God has really opened my eyes to stop talking and start acting. I don’t have a brand new perspective on life, I don’t have the urge to go save the entire world, but what I do have is stronger faith. It’s amazing how the support of members in the Christian community, my mission team specifically, can strengthen individual faith. It’s just an awesome feeling to be reminded how important fellowship is. Although my service through Jesus Christ in Nicaragua was appreciated, my work is not done and it never will be. Michael Heath once said “I may not be able to change the world, but I serve a God who can.” This quote has stuck with me ever since he said that and I plan on letting my light shine, so that through me, God can change the world. I’ve realized how important my behavior is as a Christian, seemingly almost more important that my words. I’ve realized that there is no need to be jealous of anyone or anything because it’s all God’s plan and He will provide. I’ve realized that when I actually set aside my ego, the one where jealously fights for control, God shows me things I would never have been able to see, and He gives me opportunities abundantly to glorify His name. I guess if I could sum up everything I’ve learned from the trip it is this: enjoy every moment I am graciously blessed with, with joy and contentment, and seek to serve God, because when you serve other people, He gets the glory.
Thanks for reading 🙂
stay beautiful! xoxo